Ah, yes, the month of October. With it comes the cooling weather (depending on where you live), the changing leaves (depending on where you live), the excitement over pumpkin patches and haunted hayrides (...depending on where you live) and the slow cascade into yet another Holiday Season™. Oh, and I guess there's a little thing called Oktoberfest, too.
No matter where you actually live, there's an Oktoberfest celebration nearby. The long-standing German tradition of beer gardens and busty women lugging liter-sized steins has long ago invaded American shores. Or, more accurately, America's heartland, with legions of German transplants carrying on their fall drinking traditions in their newfound American neighborhoods. Now, the practice is ubiquitous with the season, as any spot with a tap and a grill seeks to cash in on the month long party that is Oktoberfest. So what's that mean for the rest of us? A whole lot of drinking.
Heck, there are several big Oktoberfest operations that are so eager to kickstart the party, they've been going strong for weeks! The most notable example is The Alpine Village, that German megalith in Torrance you might have seen from the Harbor Freeway. Self-described as the Largest Oktoberfest in Los Angeles, they've been partying hard since September 7, with no plans of stopping any time soon. When all is said and done, Alpine Village will have posted just under sixty days of Oktoberfest, with countless broken Das Boots and untold sausages eaten. Others, like the German-themed Wirtshaus on La Brea, tapped their ceremonial kegs last week, with plans to run drink specials and curated dinners throughout the next month. Just like seeing snowflake window clings going up in September, it seems like Oktoberfest starts earlier and earlier every year.
Not all Oktoberfests are created equal. Some Alpine-inspired spaces like Wurstkuche, Spitz and Link-N-Hops have plans to serve their fair share of Bavarian brews, but won't be going much beyond that façade. Others, like an outdoor drinking favorite of ours, Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake, have been doing Oktoberfest so long there's no need to advertise. Instead, you can simply head in any day of the week for a schnitzel and liter or two of their fines weisse beer, no reservations required. Steingarten LA, the more upscale Germanic cousin on the Westside of town, also has more subdued plans to celebrate the holiday.
If you're really craving an Oktoberfest celebration, skip the city altogether and head out to Big Bear Lake. With a full month of food, drinks, and every event imaginable - log sawing, anyone? - you're sure to have a great time. And if you squint your eyes and plug your ears, or maybe just have one too many pints of pilsner, you might just convince yourself that Big Bear Lake is a suitable stand in for the Black Forest in Southwestern Germany. A little sunnier, perhaps, but with a stein in your hand, you may not care to notice the difference.
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